How is the fishing in Titusville?
With a nickname like Space City USA, fishing might seem a secondary component of this Florida community. Titusville is in close proximity to NASA and a great place to watch rocket launches, but it is also a premium fishing destination. The city is located on the banks of the north Indian River, part of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) that runs south all the way to Stuart. The lagoon itself is considered the most diverse estuary in all of North America. Titusville is also preciously close to the world famous Mosquito Lagoon, also a part of the IRL.
The area is home to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Canaveral National Seashore. The refuge alone is worth a trip to Titusville. Visitors will find 140,000 acres of land made up of brackish estuaries and marshes, coastal dunes, scrub oaks, pine forests and flatwoods, and palm and oak hammocks. Add the Canaveral National Seashore to the package and it’s easy to see that Titusville has something to offer everyone, not just anglers.
Nevertheless, Titusville does attract folks just for the fishing opportunities, and the fishing is usually good. To answer the question posed in the title, there is no one better to ask than a local fishing guide. These individuals live their passion daily on the waters near Titusville and are experts when it comes to the fishing resource.
One of those local guides is Capt. Mark Wright. He operates Florida East Coast Fishing Adventures. Capt. Mark describes Titusville area waters as a unique fishery. “First and foremost our local waters are non-tidal; we have no inlet, pass or direct link to the Atlantic Ocean. Our water fluctuations are governed by seasonal ocean levels, wind direction and in the short term by rainfall.” He explains that the water level will seldom exhibit more than an inch or two of vertical movement on any given day. Normally movement is much less and not measurable. “In effect,” says Capt. Mark, “this region of the Indian River Lagoon more closely resembles a saltwater lake than a tidal lagoon.”
The area is one of seclusion too. “There is no building along the river’s banks north of Titusville’s railroad bridge,” says Capt. Mark. “The west bank is home to the Florida East Coast Railway where the positioning of the RR tracks prevents the urban sprawl witnessed on most of the Indian River shorelines.” The east shoreline is managed by the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge so no homes will be built from the NASA Causeway to the IRL’s north end. “This simply means our waters are cleaner than many areas of the lagoon because the human pollution in most of its many forms does not easily reach the waterway.”
Capt. Mark takes advantage of the local geography and the clean water to guide anglers on sightfishing trips in the lagoon. He has great enthusiasm for the fishing possibilities provided in the northern range of the IRL. “We have expansive shallow flats which provide a perfect habitat for red drum (redfish) and our clean/clear waters allow good visibility, making sightfishing our preferred method of chasing reds and other species.”
Another local captain with plenty of time on the water in the Titusville area is Capt. Chris Myers. His charter operation is appropriately named Central Florida Sightfishing Charters. Just as the name implies, anglers actually see their fish before they catch it. Sightfishing is quite popular in Mosquito Lagoon where Capt. Myers conducts most of his trips.
Having your office on one of the few uninhabited stretches of coast in Florida has certain magnificent advantages. Capt. Chris and his anglers enjoy fishing and viewing wildlife without looking at condos, hotels, and houses. The solitude, the beauty, and the abundance of fish create a fisherman’s paradise.
Mosquito Lagoon is characterized by some of the best grass flats in the state. “The water is clear most of the year,” says Capt. Chris. “Anglers can see the fish they are targeting and cast to them.” He recommends soft plastic baits such as the DOA shrimp or CAL Jerkbaits for the ever present trout and redfish. Natural baits such as shrimp, mullet, pinfish, and crabs are also effective in the lagoon.
Capt. Chris points out that Mosquito Lagoon and the upper Indian River are home to the only population of full grown redfish that live their entire lives inshore. These schools of big redfish often reach sizes of more than 100 fish. Seeing one of these large schools will start the adrenalin pumping in any angler or observer. This phenomenon provides anglers a chance to catch a redfish over 30 pounds on any given day they fish.
Fishing the “goon,” as it is affectionately referred to by locals, is excellent year round, with the exception of rare adverse weather conditions. Capt. Chris points out, “There are opportunities for anglers using either fly or conventional gear.”
Titusville is famous for its redfish, but both Capt. Mark and Capt. Chris note the availability of other species too. In fact, a great variety of fish await anglers in Mosquito Lagoon and the north Indian River. In the winter and spring, redfish, seatrout, and black drum are the main species. During the remainder of the year, anglers can expect to encounter migratory species such as tarpon, ladyfish, jack crevalle, and more.
Both captains agree that fly fishers should have some skill at making long accurate casts to fool the wily redfish. Less experience anglers should come equipped with light to medium weight spinning tackle.
There is no doubt that visitors to Titusville can enjoy some fabulous fishing, but the bonus is that there are plenty of other activities to keep non-anglers in the group happy and entertained.